We all have our ups and downs. Whether or not it has something to do with our hormones, the fact is, those down days can sometimes really be crippling.
But wouldn’t you know it, the secret to happiness isn’t really much of a secret, after all. Just like everything else, it will require a certain dose of daily effort from us.
But if it means having a good day everyday, wouldn’t the effort be all worth it, after all?
Here’s a list of 10 simple things to do to improve your outlook and make you day worthwhile:
1.Eat your way to happiness
Food can greatly affect your mood — and that’s a fact. It’s not just the type of food itself, however, that can boost your mood, but rather, the practice of good eating habits.
Consumption of food which encourages a positive effect on your well-being, combined with a properly regulated intake, and the avoidance of food that can make you feel quite the opposite, can give you an instant boost of serotonin that can help keep you happy and healthy in general.
You wake up more energized in the morning, eager and ready to face the world and its challenges. Already, a number of studies had been able to prove a link between one’s diet as prevention and treatment for depression.
Let’s talk about some types of food you can eat and how these can significantly affect your mood throughout the day. When we talk about “healthy,” it’s not necessarily a picture of just greens and veggies that we are referring to. As a matter of fact, being able to eat exactly what you may be craving for is actually a good way to boost your mood and make you happy. But of course, teaching our bodies to crave healthier options is more beneficial.
- Don’t eat junk! According to a study conducted by University of Eastern Finland, where there were a total of 2,000 middle-aged participants, people who consumed great amounts of junk food, sugary drinks, and processed meats were found to be “associated with an increased prevalence of elevated depressive symptoms.”
- Carbs can be friends. Carbs, which are often thought of as something one must avoid or cut back on to achieve one’s slimming goals, are actually a good thing to eat for good mood. And how does this work?
Well, for one thing, carbohydrate-rich food encourages the increase of tryptophan, a type of amino acid responsible for serotonin levels, to your brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter believed to regulate our feelings of anxiety, happiness, and mood. Stick to whole-grain sources which burn slower, so that the effect of your carb mood boost is prolonged.
- Coffee or Tea. A moderate amount of caffeine to get your day going, plus the antioxidant benefits of both coffee or tea can increase your capacity to focus your mind on tasks ahead. This leads to being productive throughout the day.
A day filled with accomplishments definitely equals a good feeling. Sip a hot morning caffeine brew in readiness for a new day, listen to your music, and wait for the creative juices to flow.
- Fish. Salmon, sardines, and mussels contain something our natural bodies cannot produce, but which have been proven to affect good mood. These foods provide the brain with both the “reward” chemical, dopamine, and serotonin, the Omega-3. The feeling of pleasure is said to be akin to having sex.
- Chocolate. A study conducted by the Nestle Research Center in Switzerland discovered that people who were highly stressed, when given 1.4 ounces of chocolate every day for two weeks, were able to reduce the amount of stress hormones, including cortisol (stress response hormone) in their bodies. The result is said to be linked to the antioxidants found in chocolates.
- Whole foods. And of course, even though the things you eat that can make you happy are not limited to “just greens,” Folate and vitamin-rich food such as fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans are still the greatest and best sources for good health and nutrition. They are also the most powerful source of mood-boosting chemicals. To live healthy and free of ailments is definitely the best way to maintain a great outlook in life.
2. Exercise (or at least have some form of physical activity)
Any physical activity also releases mood-boosting hormones. Find yourself an exercise which requires focus and concentration, not only help keep the body strong, but also the mind. Whenever you can, do your exercises outdoors. Bask in sunlight to get your daily dose of vitamin D, which also helps raise serotonin and allows you to have more energy throughout your day.
3. Smile… even if you don’t feel like it (Fake it till you make it)
There is always a reason for you to smile, even when you’re not exactly feeling cheery.
- Smiling affects your brain and stress levels.
The mere act of smiling or the physical flexing of your facial muscles actually stimulates a positive reaction in your brain, and allows it to interpret the message as you are happy about something. This neural message makes it release neuropeptides (or small molecules which allow neurons to communicate) and fight off stress. A simple smile on your cheek allows your brain to release happy hormones such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. And the release of these hormones help your body relax.
- Smiling is a natural pain reliever.
Smiling through pain actually does ease pain, naturally. This is partly because, as mentioned earlier, the act of smiling triggers the release of endorphins which is our body’s natural pain killer.
- Smiling makes you look more attractive.
People feel more relaxed around a friendly looking face, and no amount of makeup or accessories can provide the same positive impression. Researchers from the Face Research Laboratory in the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, conducted a study back in 2011 where participants rated attractiveness. People who were smiling were found to be more attractive for both male and female participants, than those who weren’t.
- Your smile affects the people around you.
The orbitofrontal cortex which is the region of the brain in charge of sensory rewards, according to a study in the journal Neuropsychologia, mentioned that when seeing someone smile, a person may, in fact, feel like they are being rewarded. Thus, whenever you smile, it not only puts you in a good mood, but does the same to the people around you too.
- Smiling is a contagious social response.
Have you ever experienced a situation wherein you see a random person smiling at you and you catch yourself smiling back without exactly meaning to? This is due to the cingulate cortex of your brain, which actually mimics another person smiling as an automatic response.
The bottomline is, a simple smile can greatly affect your daily experience in many positive ways, so wear it often, if not always.
4. Get enough rest
When you lack rest, you lack energy, and without energy, the body and the mind are unable to function properly. This could, in turn, lead to lots of health and mental problems. Besides, a tired face is not very pleasant to look at. So, make sure you get adequate snooze time, around 7 hours a day, at least. Always listen to your body if it needs a break.
5. Get a hobby/ find something to challenge yourself with
Discover or rediscover your passion or just have something to keep you busy and occupied. The feeling of actually being able to finish or accomplish something is important to having a good outlook in life, as it helps boost your confidence and adds meaning to your day.
6. Get organized
Even a simple to-do list which you can tick off can make you feel accomplished and give you a sense of being able to keep on track. And with your surroundings organized, your mind also feels calmer and uncluttered.
You don’t necessarily need to become a minimalist to clear your surroundings and mind, just have a place for everything.
And those things you can’t find a place for? You can probably get rid of of them. The key is to only surround yourself with things that you love and which spark joy, like items in your favorite color– and to stick to the bare necessities whenever possible.
7.Have actual physical human interaction
Feeling burnt out? Break your daily routine and get together with friends. Actual face time around other people, especially people whom you share memories and connections with can awaken something inside you that you had forgotten existed–fun! It is an opportunity for you to experience the world with your five God-given senses, and a reminder that, no matter how often you find yourself alone, there is no reason to be lonely, because somewhere in this world, you have a little corner where you belong.
Surround yourself with the people who enjoy your company as much as you do theirs, and you are sure to always find yourself having a great outlook in life. If you really feel like there are no human friends in your life, then go pet your dog, or a neighbor’s dog. It has been found to help relieve stress and anxiety to do so. Just have a real physical connection.
8. Don’t sweat the small stuff
Don’t dwell over situations you have no absolutely no control over, or let small annoying incidents affect you. Worrying about such things only saps your energy. Life is not perfect, and you and people in general, are not perfect — there’s no need to beat yourself up over the fact that sometimes mistakes happen.
If you feel like you’re falling short at times, just keep doing your best and constantly aim to improve. Be your own cheerleader, and reward yourself accordingly for every goal that you reach.
9. Think about what you can do for others today
Giving is a wonderful feeling. It gives you substance, significance, and a sense of importance to feel like you have helped or impacted someone some way. You don’t even need to do someone a favor. Sharing the good vibes is enough — simply complimenting somebody else can brighten up their day and yours.
10. Practice gratitude as you keep tabs on your thoughts
Before the day ends, contemplate on the things you can feel thankful for. You can journal your way through your feelings so that you are always conscious about your emotional self.
A constant conscious effort to being and wanting to be bright and happy is really key. When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself that it is a new day full of possibilities — another opportunity to make and find something wonderful, beautiful, and meaningful.